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It’s time for Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week. Here’s what that means in a pandemic.
Dated: October 1 2020
Restaurant weeks usually fall when diners need an extra push to venture out, say the hot side of summer and the snowy side of winter.
This year, as COVID-19 has devastated the local dining industry, restaurant week will be held in the middle of a North Carolina fall, when diners would generally jump at the chance to eat outdoors.
The Downtown Raleigh Alliance will hold its annual Restaurant Week during the first week of October for the first time.
Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week will run from Oct. 2-11, with the heart of Fayetteville Street blocked off for two blocks on Oct. 3 and Oct. 10 for the Dine Out Downtown campaign.
Downtown Raleigh Alliance president Bill King said this year’s restaurant week aims to keep downtown restaurants front of mind.
“We need to remind people that quite a few restaurants are open and offering dining in a safe way,” King said. “We need to be deliberate in our support of small businesses to get through this moment. No business model is built for this level of disruption.”
A CELEBRATION OF RESTAURANT COMMUNITY
Usually, restaurant week offers deals to diners looking to try out new spots for the first time, often with multiple course meals for a citywide set price. This year it’s more of a celebration of the restaurant community that Raleigh has, as a reminder of what’s at stake as businesses continue to struggle.
The full roster of downtown restaurants recognizing Restaurant Week hasn’t been finalized yet, King said, and what the week means will largely be left to the individual restaurants themselves.
King said not every downtown restaurant was in a position to offer discounts and that they didn’t want to impose one kind of model on businesses.
“The reality is a lot of different restaurants are in a different frame of mind,” King said. “We didn’t want to push them into a very specific model. ... At the end of the day we just want people to support downtown businesses, to just get people out downtown in a safe way.”
BLOCKED STREETS AND STREAMING LIGHTS
On Oct. 3 and 10, as Fayetteville Street is blocked off, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance plans to set the mood by stringing up lights and setting up socially distant tables. Diners can choose to eat outdoors, take their meals back home or buy gift cards for dinners in better times.
More than anything, King said the week is meant to buoy a piece of downtown that’s helped define Raleigh’s identity.
“Small businesses mean so much to characterizing Raleigh; they’re a big part of what makes downtown interesting and unique,” King said. “Yes, we have skyscrapers but also a lot of locally owned businesses that help define our downtown and the city, and we need to make sure they’re able to get through this.”
For more information on Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week, visit downtownraleigh.org/restaurant-week.
Jackson, Drew. “It's Time for Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week. Here's What That Means in a Pandemic.” Newsobserver, Raleigh News & Observer, 29 Sept. 2020, www.newsobserver.com/living/food-drink/article246008925.html.
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